That is how I found Dr. Elaine Aron's book "The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You" in the 1990's. I was looking for something to help our young daughter cope with her extreme sensitivity to many stimuli. Smells bothered her; food flavours and textures bothered her; fabrics bothered her; noise bothered her. She was a deep thinker and displayed keen empathy. She became unbearably excited before special occasions and "crashed" afterward. She was what might have been called "high strung" a few generations ago.
I could relate because many of the same things bothered me, although not to such an extreme degree. I always felt that I was simply lacking oomph or courage or toughness that other people seemed to possess. Secretly I labelled myself "fussy". But having a child even more sensitive than me helped me to see that it wasn't a bad thing but just another part of being an individual, and reading that book made me aware that there were many others in the world like us. It also helped me see that my husband and son have quite a few characteristics of the highly sensitive person as well. They tend to verbalize them differently or not at all; whether that's a chromosomal issue, or a gender role issue, or just their personality, I have only recently begun to try to figure out.
Despite starting to realize those things years ago, it has only been the past year that I've fully accepted that part of me and stopped thinking of myself as weak or selfish. That may have something to do with being quite busy all along, first with children, then with my father's significant health issues. Since he passed away, I've had more time to think and - well, more time, period.
Our daughter is a mother herself now. She has found her own ways to cope with the things that bother her. And so have I. Crowds wear me out, and violent movies make me feel bruised at my core - so I avoid them. Clothing that is the least bit constricting, stiff, scratchy, or silky (that last one is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me) drive me to distraction, so I buy carefully. I get my news from readable sources so that I can disengage as needed. I always have a snack and water with me because I melt down if I get at all hungry or thirsty. I avoid bright sunlight and strong smells and take time alone every day to recharge.
Minimizing the stress of everyday living allows me to be as comfortable as possible in what feels to me like an overly stimulating world. And because the small irritations are kept at bay, I'm usually a more pleasant person to be around now -- and, hey, I haven't always been able to say that. I feel very lucky to have an understanding spouse, and fewer responsibilities than in years gone by.
Are you a highly sensitive person, or do you know one? Click here to find out just what that term includes (you don't have to be on the extreme end of the scale to be considered one), and if you wish, you can take a self-test here.I was so happy to accidentally stumble on this author's work again after so many years. Of course, I never thought to Google it (as often happens, I confess), or I would have found her website much sooner.
P. S. I really need to read the book again. Probably I should have done that before writing this post. But I'd have to find it first. That could be a problem. Heh. Something for my To Do list. Which is already very, very long.
|How I feel when faced with things that feel "too much".
|How I feel when I take care of myself. I'm the one on the right :)
Thanks to Pixabay for the wonderful free photos that express just what I wanted them to. Because I don't have any donkeys to make funny faces at me while I take their pictures.